The Dale Pirates: Champions of Grit and Grace

Last night while sitting in the Tulsa BOK Center for the Tournament of Champions Basketball Finals, I was reminded of the lesson that “Small Town People Can Do Big Time Things.” Meaning that no matter how small your school or hometown might be, if you are willing to put in the effort, sacrifice, and dedication, your goals become more achievable.

I saw this lesson portrayed in full view as our Dale Boys Basketball Team won the 2022 Tournament of Champions. It was the first time since 1979 that a school from Class 2A was going to the Tournament Finals. The first night Dale would go up against Union High School, which is a school of an estimated 3,000 high school students. The pool of players is bigger and the resources are enormous. The Small 2A Dale beat them by 15 points. Next up was Crossing Christian, another school with endless resources and a big school in Class 4A basketball. Still, Dale pushed through and beat the private school from OKC. Lastly, the finals of playing a 5A Tulsa Memorial Team which had a reputation of being stellar and elite. The game was close throughout, but the desire and effort continued from the Dale Pirates which led to a small school from Dale, Oklahoma to be crowned winners of the Tournament of Champions!

Now, any night, these players from the small school of Dale could have backed down from the challenge. They could have fallen into the trap of comparison of bigger vs. smaller school. They could have felt the intimidation of bigger schools and cave to the pressure. Instead, these boys rose to the challenge, played with heart, and displayed courage and resolve in the face of challenges. There’s a word for that, it’s called Grit. Those who posses grit often experience success, because they do what it takes to endure to win. They showed this with grace and poise. It was a recipe for success. When grit is added with grace, we see a combination of boldness and care demonstrated for others to see.

Success is like a flame, it is all about how you handle it. If handled correctly, the flame will spark other successes throughout the rest of the year. Sparking effort, teamwork, and commitment to do more. But, if handled incorrectly, success can breed arrogance, laziness, and a lack of commitment. Knowing the grit our boys posses at Dale, I believe this success will spark more success if we continue to grow in the grit of our character and in the strength of our team.

After all these games, our Dale Boys can lift their heads high knowing that the played with heart, effort, and GRIT. But as we look ahead to the rest of the season, we must choose to keep the flame alive. As a Dale Community, we can be proud of our team and we must continue to rally them on!

As one team is left standing as the winner of the tournament of Champions from a small 2A School, the State of Oklahoma can relish in the reminder of what the Dale Pirates showed. They reminded us that no matter your background, no matter your school size, no matter how many resources you may or may not have, with a team full of heart, a resolve full of grit combined with enough grace, it can be said again: “Small Town People Can Indeed Do Big Time Things.” Congrats Dale Pirates on doing another big thing! Next Goal Up! #ballisInYourCourt #DALE #tournamentofchampions #GoDale #GoPirates


Published by

Brandon Baumgarten

Brandon Baumgarten grew up in the small town of Oilton, Oklahoma and was elected to serve the Oklahoma FFA Association as State Secretary, State President, and as a National Officer Candidate representing nearly 25,000 students on the local, state, and national levels from 2011-2013. Afterwards, Brandon launched his speaking career and authored the highly sought after leadership book, Caught Up & Called Out, hoping to help others see the impact they can make on this world. He is a professional speaker, speaking at over 100 different events each year, and a graduate from Oklahoma State University in Agricultural Leadership, and was even named a top 10 student. He is a Zig Ziglar Legacy & Youth Certified Presenter and his message is always to engage, encourage, and empower you to do something big in your life! No matter if you are a student, teacher, parent, or business executive, Brandon's presentations are certain to make you laugh, think, and realize your impact is about to begin!

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